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Holidaymakers could be stung by airport parking charges of over 300% more by paying on the day!

Travellers are paying hundreds of pounds more for airport parking by driving up on the day rather than not pre-booking

Travellers are paying hundreds of pounds more for airport parking by driving up on the day rather than not pre-booking

Consumer giant Which? analysed prices at 16 airport car parks and found eye-watering differences between the prices a traveller could expect to pay for a week’s stay in August on the day versus booking four months in advance. In the most expensive case, travellers could pay as much as £583 for on-the-day, week-long bookings. Overall, the consumer champion found holidaymakers could save £150 on average with forward planning. The most significant saving was at Manchester Airport’s multi-storey car park, where paying on the day would cost you four times as much (327% more). A week’s stay booked four months in advance was charged at £95, compared with a staggering £406 on the day of departure. Price differences at Heathrow were similarly eye-watering. While booking four months in advance would cost £190, paying on the day would cost £583 – an increase of 207 per cent. At Birmingham Airport meanwhile, you’d pay 161 per cent more if booking on the day, taking the price from £150 to £392, and at Gatwick, you could spend 70 per cent more, with the price rising from £106 when booked in advance, to £180. To get the best possible price, always compare the cost of on-site and off-park parking. Being further away and therefore less convenient, off-site parking is often assumed to be the cheapest option. However, prices were checked at 11 airports; and it was found that on four occasions, the on-site option worked out more affordable.

Two car parks at Gatwick’s North and South terminals beat off-site options by £1, and when booked in advance, Luton’s long-stay car park was £3 cheaper than the off-site option. Which? also found examples where on-site parking cost just a few pounds more for the added convenience – for instance, Stansted’s long stay car park was £77 when booked in advance, compared with £75 at the off-site equivalent. However, on-site parking does not always have the shortest transfer time. Though Edinburgh’s official ‘Plane Parking’ costs £10 less than the cheapest off-site option, the advertised transfer time is slightly longer than the off-site alternative. Whatever option you go for, always make sure you do your research before you book. Drivers should look for the Park Mark logo, awarded to parking facilities that have been risk assessed and approved by the police. Similarly, if you’re using a meet and greet or valet service, take photos of your vehicle before handing over the keys, as well as of petrol levels and mileage you can keep tabs on anything amiss. It’s also worth checking if your insurance covers damage to your vehicle at an airport car park, especially if you’re using meet and greet.

Further tips to save on airport parking.

Shop around.

Consumers should shop around and consider using price comparison sites before booking, particularly as prices can change daily. You’re particularly likely to find deals if you’re willing to be flexible – excluding searches for meet and greet or specific car parks, when Which? Carried out spot checks on more than 70 prices across five sites (including booking directly), it found Skypark Secure offered the cheapest prices almost every time.

Use loyalty discounts or sign up to mailing lists.

Signing up to mailing lists and loyalty schemes can also yield discounts on airport parking. Gatwick and Manchester Airports, for example, offer a 10 per cent discount for signing up to their mailing list. (Mailing list sign up at the bottom of the webpage) Similarly, travellers can earn loyalty points at Heathrow that can be spent on airport parking. Saving the required points will take time, however – after receiving 100 points as a signup bonus, you then earn one point for every pound spent. 500 points equals £10 off of parking costs. Tesco Clubcard also offers £15 off vouchers at airport Parking and Hotels (APH) for every £5 worth of points.

Checking voucher codes websites like is also worthwhile.

Look out for hotel deals.

Which? found a week’s parking stay at Heathrow with Blue Circle on the Airparks website for £142, which included a night’s stay in a Premier Inn, and meet and greet services. Blue Circle’s meet and greet service usually costs £130, so you get a night’s hotel stay for just £12. Just check the Ts&Cs before you book – picking up your car between midnight and 4 am levies an extra £50 charge in this specific deal.

Consider renting a driveway.

Renting a private parking space outside someone’s home is often cheaper than a conventional car park. You can search for driveway spaces on websites such as JustPark. Which? Researchers found a parking spot for August near Stansted Airport for £28 – a saving of £49 compared with parking on-site at the airport. However, renting a private space comes with more risk, particularly as most driveways won’t offer CCTV or security. You should also consider the practicalities of getting from the parking spot to the airport. You can read our guide on renting out your parking space to earn some extra money as a side hustle!


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